23 February 2011

Converging Philanthropic Interests

Ready to win the future.
Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone is in Washington D.C. today, announcing that he is joining the efforts of ConvergeUS. The live event will highlight how to amplify the efforts of technology, non-profit, governmental, and academic entities in creating social innovation.

I hope they touch on the difficulty of implementing widely adoptable pedagogical changes in a climate of reduced education funding. If ConvergeUS wants to make some real changes, I hope it focuses on using technology to make education less expensive, and teachers more valued. If they come up with anything, we can evaluate it when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

16 February 2011

In the Fresh Air Biz

Twitter frequency.
Although I’m still trying to sort out my feelings over Twitter’s rejection of my advances, I thought I would still let you know that tomorrow’s “Fresh Air” will feature Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone. According to their promotion, the conversation will center on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at George Washington University.

Give it a listen when it airs, or from their site, or through the podcast, and we can talk about it if I feel discussing Twitter when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

14 February 2011

Shot to the Heart

Be mine.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and today’s post was going to be my love letter to Twitter. It was going to compliment. It was going to flatter. It was going to woo. It was going to court. But before I could post it here, Twitter sent its own Valentine to me. And I’m not pleased.

This blog originally started as a means to document my affection for, and appreciation of, Twitter. I was chronically my learning process while creating better journalism, philanthropy, and information with help from the Twitter API. The goal was to join the flock. When a Communications Coordinator position opened earlier this month, the timing couldn’t have been better. I have a work history I am proud of; I have been an avid Twitter user since 2007; and I have this collection of posts about Twitter which show my passion and interest in almost everything they do.

Unfortunately, it seems, these are not enough. The HR Department thinks I’m not qualified to even meet with the Twitter Communications Team. I would love to be able to make my case to them directly, to see if I would be a good fit. But it seems I’ll have to wait a little longer for that opportunity. Maybe at SXSW.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep my hopes up, and my motivation high. I’m debating whether to take a break from posting here, but that decision won’t be clear unless and until I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

12 February 2011

Getting the Message

Yesterday’s dawn of a new political reality in Egypt grew in no small part from the ingenuity of its people. When President Hosni Mubarak sealed off channels of transmitting communications out of the country, he thought he had contained the growing tide of rebellion against him. Through innovation, determination, and courageousness, the enraged Egyptian people were able to dodge the digital blockades put in place by their repressive government. Sharing opinions, preparing plans, executing action, they forced the world to take notice. Right?

How many populations of repressed people were able to follow what was happening in Tahrir Square? Do farmers in China know they have the same power to overthrow their leaders? What about workers in North Korean? Or Buddhists in Burma? Knowledge is like a conversation; it’s a two-way street. For someone to share what they’ve learned, someone else must be listening.

I’d like to go on and on about how Twitter, and other evolving information networks, will eventually bring freedom and the end of oppression to nations across the globe. But if ruling regimes are censoring what knowledge their people have access to, how will these populations discover what else is possible? And without this knowledge, how can they put any of it to use?

I am ecstatic about the gains the people of Egypt and Tunisia have carved out for themselves. But my enthusiasm is tempered by the realization that not everyone was free to see these steady strides to sovereignty. Despite the best efforts of these recently deposed dictators, information leaked out. Now, we need to find a way for information to leak in. It’s a new dimension to this inspiring story that I’ll keep in mind as I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

11 February 2011

Wow. #jan25 #feb11 #egypt #18days

At the risk of my clumsy and quickly composed words getting in the way of the real, raw, revelatory emotion of Egypt’s momentous shift in government today, I share with you a moment of from one of the "أصوات مصرية." Here is Wael Ghonim’s reaction to the announcement that Hosni Mubarak is stepping down as president of the country he has ruled for almost 30 years.

Here's to an even more free ‘morrow, on the Web.

10 February 2011

More than Twinfluence

A San Francisco treat.
We can no longer ignore Twitter’s growing influence in recording—and affecting—
world events. We have bee using Twitter to follow breaking news more and more. Today, as the questions around the stability and infrastructure of Egypt’s government began to get answered, Twitter hosted a live discussion of world events with Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Egypt has been dominating the news for almost two weeks now, with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms an integral part of the coverage. And the coverage of the coverage.

On these platforms, we are building better sources. We are building better discussions. We are building better information. It’s hard to image that this is what the creators of twttr had in mind when they designed the service in 2006.

Take a moment to ponder that, and we can talk about it when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

04 February 2011

The Journey to Join the Flock

Applying myself.
So, it’s finally happened: Twitter is looking for a new Communications Coordinator. These posts started as a way for me to chronicle getting better aquatinted with the Twitter API, in the hopes that building something would make me a more attractive candidate. Although my progress has been slow, the motivation to document how Twitter is being used in journalism, philanthropy, and information dissemination—areas I’m focusing on in my API creation—has allowed me to watch and comment on Twitter’s growing importance in drafting our history.

I’ll get back to those observations soon, but right now, I have a resume to submit. Wish me luck. And if you have any influence, and think I deserve a chance to talk to Sean Garrett and his team about what I can bring to Twitter, please let me know. But wait until I see you see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

03 February 2011

Soulless Soles

Kenneth Cole reaction.
Previous posts have focused on how people handle mistakes on Twitter. There are plenty of other posts about just one recent NPR incident. But what happens when your mistake is that of poor taste? Thanks to Kenneth Cole, now we know.

Earlier today, the Kenneth Cole account—featuring updates from both the brand and the man—sent out an unseemly Tweet, seemingly trying to turn the chaos in Egypt into consumption of their new collection.

Consuming chaos.

And then the Internet went crazy. And rightly so. But before we go too far, I want to point out that unlike some other corporate accounts, this post was populated by the man behind the brand. Sure he has a staff which sends updates on the company’s behalf, but as noted on the account’s page, Mr. Cole does some of the Tweeting himself. When your name is your brand, you run the risk of saying—or doing—something stupid, hurting both.

“Thoughts that end in -KC are from me personally; others are behind the seams insights from my inspiring associates.”
Kenneth Cole- Twitter, 05 October 2009

As any “Communications Consultant” worth their salt will tell you, it’s what you do after a mistake that matters. In Mr. Cole’s case, he sent out an equivocating update. Then, presumably upon additional reflection, he sent an apology pointing to a Facebook explanation. And then, he deleted the offending Tweet. Let me repeat that: he deleted the offending Tweet!

Twitter’s importance in the events in Egypt, and many of the recent ”Twitter Revolutions” is—and will be—argued for a while once stability is secured. But the one thing that is not debatable right now is that because of our non-stop monitoring of these events, Twitter is being watched. And watched closely.

As an attention-getter, yes, sending an update referencing Egypt will make waves. But mentioning Egypt solely to sell products is a marketing misstep that a huge number of people will notice. And discuss. Deleting the Tweet isn’t going to eliminate that conversation. It just makes people look further into what caused the ruckus in the first place. And when people can’t find the source, they look elsewhere for an explanation. And then controlling the narrative disappears.

Controlling Cole.

People make mistakes. We all have. It’s how we handle them which illustrates whether or not people will be able to trust us in the future. By deleting the initial update, Mr. Cole—and his brand—create an air of untrustworthiness, essentially saying, “When we make mistakes, we’re going to try and hide them.” The ensuing Facebook discussion is an attempt at transparency, but it’s really just window dressing. If Mr. Cole wanted to take full responsibility for his error, he would leave it up for Web searches to find, and engage in an effort to explain his thinking, apologize for the offense, and make overtures to make amends. As this is only a few hours old, there’s still time to recover, but it’s going to take a lot more than an apology on a Facebook page. Especially since we’re still watching Egypt so closely. On Twitter.

We’ll see what steps Kenneth Cole takes towards mollification in the next days and weeks. Until then, we have more important ideas to discuss. I’m almost ashamed at wasting this many pixels on Mr. Cole’s faux pas instead of pointing you toward coverage of obviously more important topics. My advice to the Kenneth Cole brand is to try regaining the narrative by making some grand gesture to Egyptians everywhere. If they do, we may hear about it on Twitter, on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

02 February 2011

Marshaling Malcolm’s Message

Writing a wrong.
Jesus Christ, he’s done it again. As if to prove that he cannot admit to being wrong, Malcolm Gladwell has weighed in, again, on whether or not the people of an oppressed country really need Twitter.

In a new online article for The New Yorker, Mr. Gladwell’s most-recent misguided missive completely contradicts Marshall McLuhan’s argument that the form of communication informs the communication.

“People with a grievance will always find ways to communicate with each other. How they choose to do it is less interesting, in the end, than why they were driven to do it in the first place.”
Malcolm Gladwell- The New Yorker, 02 February 2011

In the current case with Egyptians looking to oust their president, Mr. Gladwell is missing a number of important points which make Twitter a large part of the story. Granted, without Twitter, protesters would still be protesting. But the ease and availability of information distribution through Twitter has allowed Egyptians to broadcast their grievances, rationale, and actions more quickly to a world watching the dominoes fall.

Yes, people can organize without Twitter. Yes, protesters can voice their concerns using traditional media outlets. Yes, eyewitnesses can share their accounts with anyone who asks. But our new information tools bring speed, relevance, and attention to growing unrest with remarkable alacrity.

Even when the Egyptian government tried to limit the way people communicate, information still escaped. I can’t emphasize enough how significant it is that Google set up their Speak to Tweet service over the weekend. For a company whose mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” it’s very telling that Google focused their resources on a way for the Egyptian people to stay in touch with Twitter.

I almost feel bad for Mr. Gladwell. The more he dismisses Twitter as a means for communication, the more out of touch he sounds. No, Twitter is not the reason for recent revolutions. But without it, we would not be watching. Or listening. Or learning. Which will continue when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.